Should cancer be made a notifiable disease?

It is necessary to make cancer a notifiable disease because

  1. Almost 50% of developed nations have incorporated cancer to be a notifiable disease recognizing the need to address the growing burden of cancer on health and economy.
  2. As per Globocan 2008 data we have 10 lakh new cases of cancer diagnosed per year, and 6,35,000 deaths per year in India clearly showing a significant health burden.
  3. Indian Health sector spends billions of rupees each year on cancer treatment (more than 30,000 crores). Majority of health Care in India (75-80%) is private and hence expenditure is out of pocket for patient.
  4. Majority of India's population lives in villages (80%) and have a PPP of less than (120 INR) 2$ per day.
  5. India’s 24 urban population-based cancer registries, with only two registries representing rural areas , While the incidence of cancers are equal in rural and urban.


A) This will provide us with detailed official data on cancer incidence, and mortality

B) The information can be utilized to plan strategy by government towards policy changes. for eg: should the Govt support for cancer care be directed only towards regional cancer centers or should we have a decentralized model?

C) A regional break up on the cancer incidence will help us divert more focus on regions that need more attention on cancer control policies and other national programs on cancer prevention such as national tobacco control program (NTCP), environmental pollution, food adulteration etc.

D) Developing cancer centers and treatment facilities based on the incidence patterns. This would make a huge impact on patient who now need to travel long distances for prolonged cancer care and treatment. In addition, the expenditure on accommodation and other incidental expenditure. For eg: tata hospital in mumbai almost registers 30% patients from north east.

Thus making cancer notifiable we will have reliable information to focus on cancer control activities, patient care and health care planning.

The recent request from ICMR and with individual states such as Kolkata , Punjab making it notifiable has made the union government consider this option seriously. In my opinion, the only thing that may be stopping the government is - what do they do after they make it notifiable. While there seems to be a strong will and wish to implement this, the impediment could be that - this means a huge responsibility on the government to also manage the problem effectively and they need to be geared with the same in terms of man power, infrastructure, a plan to rehabilitate etc.

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